A need for speed for Kerber
FOX Sports pundit Bartoli believes Kerber's speed on the court is the reason behind her dip in form
It was known as the year where Serena Williams got Kerb-ed.
The American superstar was upstaged last year by German Angelique Kerber, who stunned the 35-year-old at Melbourne Park last year, upsetting her in the Australian Open final and ultimately dethroning her as the top-ranked player in the world.
But, since Kerber became world No. 1 since last October, she has already lost six times, a far cry from her form last year.
The 28-year-old was shocked by Ukraine's Elina Svitolina in the Brisbane International quarter-finals last week, before she was eliminated by Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina in the second round of the Sydney International on Monday.
Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who is in Singapore for a promotional shoot for the Australian Open next week, when she will work as a pundit for FOX Sports, told The New Paper yesterday that Kerber's recent poor form could be a combination of factors.
Having followed the German's performances in recent months, Frenchwoman Bartoli said: "Kerber did so well in 2016 because she moved so fast and retrieved so many balls.
"When you look at her match two days ago against Daria Kasatkina (19-year-old Russian) at the Sydney International, it was completely different.
"It was quite easy for Kasatkina to win, so I don't know if it's the pressure (of being world No. 1) or if it's her training schedule during the off-season that has put her in this position.
"If Kerber continues to move the way she's been moving since the end of last year, there's no way she can stay as world No. 1 for long."
Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, who is serving a 15-month ban for using meldonium, will make her comeback in Stuttgart in April.
Despite her stuttering form, Bartoli still believes Kerber is the one to beat at the Australian Open. And she is also looking forward to seeing how Williams will fare in the first Grand Slam of the year.
"I'm looking forward to watching the two of them at the Australian Open for different reasons," said the 32-year-old.
"For Angie, people should watch how she handles the pressure, it's crucial for her.
"For Serena, all eyes will be on whether she can get back into the groove of winning Grand Slams, which we are all familiar with."
Besides the top two, Bartoli also tips Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza to go far in Melbourne.
Said Bartoli: "With her serve and power, Pliskova is definitely someone to watch out for.
"Muguruza is coming back very strong as well, after a complicated end to the year during the WTA Finals.
SHARAPOVA TO STORM BACK
Bartoli also singled out Dane Caroline Wozniacki and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard as others to watch out for.
One player who will not be in Melbourne is former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, who is serving a 15-month ban for using meldonium.
The Russian will make her comeback in Stuttgart in April and Bartoli has no doubts that the 29-year-old will make a successful comeback.
Said Bartoli: "It's always about focus with her.
"She will definitely be as intense as she has always been.
"That's why she's been so successful. I expect her to get back into her groove straight away when she comes back."
- The 2017 Australian Open will be broadcast live on the FOX Sports and FOX Sports 2 channels (Singtel TV Ch 114 & Ch115/StarHub TV Ch 208 and Ch 209), the FOX Sports Play app (on-the-go), and on foxsportsasia.com.